MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Department of Health officials have confirmed that a traveler returning to Minnesota from West Africa tested positive for Lassa fever.
The man, who flew in to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on March 31, went to a doctor soon after arriving, complaining of a fever.
Due to his travel history, his blood samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he tested positive for the viral illness on April 3.
Lassa fever is common in West Africa, where it is carried by rodents and transmitted to humans through contact with infected droppings or urine.
It can be transmitted person-to-person via direct contact with an infected person’s blood, bodily fluids, eyes, mouth and nose. The viral fever can also be transmitted via sexual contact.
Death from Lassa fever are rare, and health officials say 80 percent of humans infected with it don’t show any symptoms.
Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota’s health commissioner, says MDH and the CDC are working to notify anyone who may have come into contact with the traveler, including his fellow airline passengers.
“The hospital has done an excellent job of caring for the patient and taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of hospital staff, visitors and patients,” Ehlinger said.
The commissioner stresses that the general public is not at risk. The traveler is in stable condition.
The last case of Lassa fever in the U.S. was in 2010, and was also related to travel.